When Monticello and Western Albemarle meet Friday on the football field at MHS, there will be plenty on the line. The Warriors and Mustangs are the only two undefeated teams in Central Virginia, both at 6-0, but only one team will hold that title after Friday.
The two teams will renew their rivalry once again, meeting for the eighth time since 2008, with first place in the Jefferson District on the line.
"We try to take it as just another one, but around the locker room you can feel that it's a little bit different," Western senior wide receiver Chase Stokes said of the rivalry. "The coaches keep telling us and we keep reminding each other that it's one game in the year, let's just go out there, let's treat it a business trip, get it done, and keep rolling."
Across town, the Mustangs are also working on staying focused as they prepare for the matchup.
"The rivalry is there, that I can't lie about, the rivalry is there," said Monticello senior defensive tackle Sean Means. "But we're trying to focus on ourselves and just getting better."
For Western, there will be a chance at revenge on Friday. The Mustangs ended the Warriors' season in 2012, handing them a loss in the Region-II semifinals.
"If you look back to last year, we beat them in this game and then they beat us really when it counted," said WAHS head coach Ed Redmond. "We're just going to go try and play hard, learn from it, and if we see them again in the postseason hopefully we can do that."
The Mustangs won the last round, but in their last seven meetings the teams have been fairly even. Monticello has won four of those games, while Western has won three.
"We want it versus this team very much because we're the same pretty much in every category, and we have a lot of the same players in both positions," said WAHS senior right tackle Donte Henry. We've been looking forward to this game a lot since we lost to them in the playoffs, so we're ready to get back at it again."
First-year Monticello head coach Jeff Woody is new to the rivalry, but even without experiencing it firsthand yet, he realizes the importance of the game for both teams.
"It's the biggest game in the state of Virginia, which speaks volumes about the quality of programs that are going to be on the field on Friday night," he says. "Western Albemarle with Coach Redmond and company have done a great job over the past couple of years."
"We're both good programs you know, I mean everybody respects each other," adds Monticello senior Josh Malm. "Going into the second part of the regular season, it would be great to get another win to stay undefeated, but we can't focus too much on the record, we have to focus on the game and play after play."